As the Cleveland Browns look forward to the 2023 NFL Draft, they have quite a few holes to fill on their roster. One of those positions is potentially a new second tight end as they still run an effective offense in a lot of 12 personnel looks.
While they saw a breakout season from David Njoku that was hampered by an injury, Harrison Bryant is entering the last year of his contract. Bryant took over as the TE2 in Cleveland’s offense after they released Austin Hooper, and 2022 may have shown that the former Mackey Award winner may be better suited as the third guy in the room.
If the Browns look to take a new tight end in the draft, here are the top names to keep tabs on.
Luke Musgrave, Oregon State
Browns 2023 NFL Draft target Luke Musgrave. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
It is a nice tight end class where six names could turn into consistent players at the NFL level. And my sixth guy on the list is Luke Musgrave.
Musgrave is a long strider down the field, showing the ability to separate deep, displays soft hands, and has a massive catch radius to work with. His blocking, however, is a bit subpar, and he is a bit of a stiff athlete as his routes tend to be rounded off.
The league may be higher on Musgrave than I am, but he has the makings of a fourth round pick who could creep into the top-100.
Sam LaPorta, Iowa
Browns 2023 NFL Draft target Sam LaPorta. Iowavsmichiganfb 20221001 Bh
Sam LaPorta is a consistent tight end coming out of Iowa. He is not an elite athlete, he does not possess elite speed or size, but he does the little things well to make him a consistent contributor. His production, however, was limited by playing with perhaps the worst quarterback in all of FBS football in 2022.
LaPorta has soft hands, the Hawkeyes sought to get the ball to him in space and would split him out as well. He has the makings of a TE2, however, as he is not a guy who is going to win one-on-one battles. He will, however, take full advantage of schemed-up looks when he is targeted. Not a bad blocker as well, LaPorta would fit right in with Njoku.
Dalton Kincaid, Utah
Browns 2023 NFL Draft target Dalton Kincaid. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
There is not a player in the entire country with stronger hands than Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid. Every football that nears his hands has a magnetic connection as he is as consistent as they come at the catchpoint. And he put the Utah offense on his back this season, including an outburst against USC that saw him end the game with 234 yards and a touchdown on 16 catches.
He is a nice athlete who can run well and jump high. This maximizes his catch radius as well. Kincaid has shown plenty of ability to make adjustments on the football near the boundary, making acrobatic catches look routine.
The only issue? Kincaid spent most of his time in the slot and his ability to play in line and block at a high level deserves to be questioned.
Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State
Browns 2023 NFL Draft target Tucker Kraft. Sdsu Vs Si 023
Following in the footsteps of Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert, Tucker Kraft looks to be the next big tight end out of South Dakota State to make an impact at the NFL level. And he is coming fresh off of a season in which the Jackrabbits brought home the FCS national title.
His production dropped this season as he battled injuries, but Kraft is a player who can move around the offense, handle manufactured touches and turn them into YAC, and pluck the football out of the air at a high level. He has all the makings of a day-two pick.
Darnell Washington, Georgia
Browns 2023 NFL Draft target Darnell Washington. News Joshua L Jones
There may not be a tougher player in all of the country than Georgia tight end Darnell Washington. The problem is, however, he has not been a consistent target during his time in Athens. He finished his college career with just 454 yards and three touchdowns on 28 catches.
His blocking ability is unquestionable as he carries bodies down the field with him, and he has even shown the prowess to hurdle defenders in the open field. Listed at 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, Washington is not the most explosive or fluid athlete, but has the catch radius and the hands to consistently make plays when he was called upon.
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame
Browns 2023 NFL Draft target Michael Mayer. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
The margin between Washington and Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer is not a small one. He possesses a massive frame and pairs them with light feet as he can get in and out of breaks at a high level. Men his size tend to be stiffer athletes, but Mayer’s fluidity makes him a nice route runner.
With strong hands, Mayer is a dominating presence at the catchpoint as well, as his production was off the charts at Notre Dame. He finished his collegiate career with back-to-back seasons with at least 65 catches and 800-yard receiving, with 16 touchdowns in that timeframe.